Michigan Spring Bucket List: Best Spots to See Holland’s Famous Tulips
When it comes to springtime in Michigan, there’s probably no place more vibrant than Holland with its dazzling display of tulips in all sizes and colors. Its millions of tulips bloom each May, creating colorful swaths through city parks and public spaces, and lining downtown corridors as well as city streets. Holland’s annual Tulip Time Festival is the largest of its kind in the United States. It has been drawing thousands of flower-loving visitors to this city near Lake Michigan each May since 1929. But even if you’re not headed to the festival, there are still plenty of stunning spots to view tulip fields, mass plantings in a rainbow of colors, and even tulips surrounding an authentic Dutch windmill.
A long season. Knowing how many people come to see Holland’s famous tulips each year, the city landscapers and private tulip farms do strategic planning to ensure there are tulips available to be viewed for most of the month of May. How do they do this? Each fall, they plant bulbs with different bloom times so the tulip season is extended on both ends of the festival. Early blooming tulips are planted alongside mid-season bloomers as well as the late-blooming varieties. There are petite blooms, while others are tall and slender, multi-hued, frilly and even bell-shaped.
If you want to check on the tulip-blooming progress, use the city of Holland’s Tulip Tracker webcam:
Best spots for tulip-gazing. While you can drive around town and see lots of amazing tulip displays without ever leaving your vehicle, a walking tour that gets you up close to these beauties is the best way to experience them. Here are some of the best areas in town – and just outside Holland – to get your fill of tulips, according to festival staff:
- Centennial Park, 239 S. River Ave. The 48,000 tulips blooming here invite you to stroll along the winding paths in this Victorian-style city park in the middle of town. Looking for a photo opp? There’s a traditional Dutch fountain and a gazebo.
- Downtown Holland’s shopping district. More than 38,000 tulips decorate the downtown corridors that are lined with shops, restaurants and breweries. Most of these are in streetside planters and picturesque flower beds.
- Window on the Waterfront Park, 110 Columbia Ave. This park fronts a marshy area along the Black River, but it also holds some of the city’s most photogenic flower beds. More than 100,000 tulips bloom here each spring. You’ll find walking paths, photo stands and scenic overlooks in this 30-acre park.
- Tulip Lanes: Drive through Holland’s neighborhoods and you’ll find more than 250,000 tulips lining Washington Avenue, 12th Street and other nearby corridors. In all, Holland has six miles of curbside plantings in its neighborhoods. Also watch for flowering Kwanzan cherry, plumb and crab trees, which tend to bloom the same weeks as the tulips.
- Windmill Island Gardens, 1 Lincoln Ave. No trip to Tulip City is complete without strolling or driving down the curving road that connects Holland to Windmill Island. The centuries-old windmill, DeZwaan, takes center stage, but visitors stay to stroll the formal gardens and colorful tulips. For hours and entrance fees, see the website here.
- Nelis’ Dutch Village, 12350 James St. This replica of an 1800s Dutch village is a fun, family-friendly spot that also boasts more than 30,000 tulips. For hours and entrance fees, see the website here.
- Veldheers Tulip Farm and DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory, 12775 Quincy St. More than 4 million tulips draw crowds each spring at this 40-acre, family-owned farm just north of Holland. Visitors can see scenic tulip fields as well as decorative plantings. For hours and entrance fees, see the website here.
Festival Tips. If you’re headed to Holland during the Tulip Time Festival that runs May 7 to May 15, there are a few things to keep in mind. Many of the activities are free, including tulip viewing in most city parks and downtown. You can also see the famous Dutch Dancers perform on the street and in city parks and grab a curbside spot for the two big parades that are signature Tulip Time events this year. They are:
- Kinderparade: May 12. School children wearing costumes line up and walk through downtown streets. Each school and grade select their own Dutch theme.
- Volksparade: May 14. This is the festival’s biggest parade, where the traditional Dutch street-scrubbing is married with big marching bands and lots of Dutch costumes, floats and traditional parade revelry.
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